Henley on Thames' glorious new museum is a tour de force building of the late 1990s.
But when David Chipperfield won the commission no one was able to tell him precisely what exhibits were to go in the spaces he had to create, other than they were likely to be boats. 'I sort of knew boats were long and thin,' he says.
Chipperfield set about creating a thoroughly modern boathouse. Raised off the flood plain on concrete columns, it is framed in reinforced concrete and steel with glass walls and green oak cladding. The floor to ceiling glass connects the entrance and lower exhibition level interior directly to the woodland river bank setting. Viewed from the river bank, the precisely attached cladding and metal-covered roof echoes a traditional boathouse.
Overall it is a triumph of workmanship which extends right through to the backstair fire escape which reveals quite as much care and attention as the most prominent public parts of the building.
Trustees of the River and Rowing Museum
David Chipperfield Architects
Whitby Bird & Partners
Norwest Holst Construction
Laing (enabling works)
Furness Green Partners (services)
Davis Langdon Management (project manager)